Espn, Executive Producer, Football discussed on WGR Programming
O'clock eastern time hosted by yours truly in that that guy Bob Lee, who's taken a long vacation. He calls it a sabbatical. It's really vacation. He says he's coming back in April. I I'm not holding my breath. We welcome to the show. Now. It's always interesting when you get to interview your boss, the executive producer of e sixty a man who's won about forty seven national sports EMMY awards, but who's counting my good friend. Andrew Tennant, Andy. How are you? Hello. Jeremy I'm holding my breath speak into the microphone. Okay. I know. This is what you normally do. But why why don't we speak into the microphone that's season for the producers? Okay. I know you're a visual guy. It's a visual medium television, east sixties about production values, but this is audio e sixties back this past week in the season premiere. We had a story about parkland about Marjory stoneman Douglas high school in parkland Florida, and it's football team trying to cope in the aftermath of the horrific school shooting that took place a year ago this week on February fourteen twenty eighteen. That was a story that in many ways is emblematic of what sixty is done. Sure. It's a story. That's sports. But it's also not a story about sports. It's also a story that required a full year's worth of reporting and producing from Martin quota bashing in particular, I was the reporter. But most of the work is as is. Usually the case you'd be the first to say that is done by the producer. Obviously there was an anniversary this week. But why did why did you sixty choose to tell this story about parkland? I think for us it's about yes, we work for a sports network. Yes, we're a sports show. But our responsibility is to go out there and find stories that are compelling and are just about life where there's a lesson to be learned where there's, you know, something that provides the next chapter two story. You know, I think at a certain point the coverage of the parkland stoneman Douglas mass shooting ended. And you know, so people moved on cameras went away the store any there were still coverage, obviously because many students have been have been politically active since then, but. On the ground in parkland, yet when the cameras go away a lot of coverage goes, you know, they weren't in the headlines anymore and for us. It was about telling the longer story. You know, what is the next chapter? And you know, what was the sports angle for us. And you know, here's a football coach, you know, who who gave his life to try and save children. Here's another football. Coach who on one day in an instant lost his assistant coach also losses boss, the athletic director who were both killed in the mass shooting. And you know, we wanted to know we wanted to sort of tell the story of of those relationships, but we also wanted to tell the story of of of strength, a story of courage, a story of how do you move on? You know, how do you take these kids and and push forward in the aftermath of of something as horrific as that. We're speaking with Andy Tennant, the executive producer of e sixty wh. Which returned on Sunday to ESPN one at nine o'clock eastern time for its twelfth season. And as I said earlier, the show has evolved from twelve to fifteen shows year, you could find them in prime time. We never knew exactly when they were going to be on when the season was going to take place was going to be during football season not during football season. Now, we have regular schedule as we have had for the last couple of years. We're on every Sunday morning on ESPN one. When football is not being played. And we're on ESPN two every Sunday morning when football is being played. Now, we're in the heart of it since the Super Bowl two weeks ago. How did the move from time to Sunday morning change the way, you think about what the show should be? That's a great question. I mean, I think for us. It was really always about having a consistent time slot. You know, I think when we were in primetime and often following sportscenter. You know, we were we were leading shows with our our signature profiles of the biggest athletes in sports, you know, bringing our fans up close and personal to these big stars in a way that you know, they they weren't being brought by our traditional studio shows. So, and that's really how we differentiate ourselves from the rest of ESPN and also from most of the sports shows that are out there. When we moved the Sunday mornings. It was like we finally had the answer to the age old question for us is I love the show. I just have no idea when it's on. And so the fact that we're on in some capacity, whether it's ESPN one or ESPN two on a Sunday morning at nine o'clock. You know, it's just for us. It's a great way for people to wake up and to be told a great story that's going to set the tone for the rest of their day or for the rest of their week. And I think we really wanted to focus on you know, who is the audience on a Sunday morning versus who is the audience and prime time during the week. And you know, what are the metrics telling us what who are the demos out there? And I don't want to dive too deep into that. It did it did force us to rethink the show a lot about you know, what was going on on Sundays. What's going on that we can set the tone for the week? Also, you know, what just provides great content that complements sportscenter which is on both before. And after us on Sundays speaking with Andy Tennant, executive producer v sixty and I got to say, you know, we go back a long way we worked on pieces as reporter and producer twenty years ago. And if you did I'm not going to get into any specifics that might be embarrassing to you. And you made some bad decisions about had a little camera time, you gave me some things never change. But we considered ourselves lucky back. Then if we got seven minutes for a piece that was long and TV germs and somehow counter intuitively, the conventional wisdom being that the attention span of the audience gets smaller and smaller over time and digital distractions. You know, have made it harder to keep people's attention. All that are are stories. Now, we do twenty. Minute stories all the time. We do half hour shows on single topics all the time hours pretty frequently as well. There was a time. When people said that's too long for TV how did that philosophy evolve? Where there's almost no limit to the time allotted to a story. Listen, I I've said this before I think thirty for thirty was the game changer. In fact, you know, you asked how you know, it was the most significant change between primetime Sunday morning. You know, and a lot of it is the length of the pieces. You know, we we just we'd go more in depth. We dive deeper into these stories and into these characters because we're on every week because we're on every week. But also, I think look when when the show was, you know, the idea for the show was originally being developed, you know, a lot of executives here, we're saying, you know, more story shorter stories, you know, look within that our to get like six or seven stories at like six to eight minutes because of the attention span that you were speaking of and then thirty for thirty we figured out. It's really just the executives attention because. That's right. But then, you know, thirty for thirty came along, and they were telling stories longer than anybody else at ESPN and the response was overwhelming. And we started to look at ourselves as storytellers and say, you know, maybe we don't have this. Right. Maybe maybe shorter isn't better maybe longer is better. And so we spent a lot of time being rethinking things considering the the success that our colleagues there had, and you know, and I think it's really been a game changer. It's has such such a significant impact not only on how we tell stories, but on how you know, everyone tells stories across the board sports, we're speaking with Andy Tan, executive producer of e sixty which is on of course, every Sunday morning at nine eastern time on ESPN. It's twelfth season. Just underway. There's a lot coming up this year. There's lot coming up this season. But but more important than just promoting the show, which is kind of the concede here. I want to ask you, there's some talented people in the show. There's some great reporters. Great producers, who's the best reporter on the show a bubbly. Bob doesn't report. He had to take a sabbatical you needed to reflect not he's not a professor he needed to take six months. Hosts he's a very capable now did very briefly. But it's I keep telling him, it's not a sabbatical. If you're not a professor, it's vacation, well, considering he's now giving the commencement speech. At Seton Hall in in may, I mean, I think there is an honorary degree that goes along with says, he's not showing up if they're not giving him some kind of degree. We should have him on next week to talk about this. But that was very adeptly handled. I'm impressed. Andrew ten is the executive producer of e sixty back every Sunday morning on ESPN ESPN one at nine eastern time. Any thank you for keeping me on the show. I appreciate it. Thank you. Jeremy was was in any way, this better than a Harvard Cornell hockey game, I play obviously, I just watch those games those laws. Reaction's Cornell beats Harvard on the ice. So let's say that we work for some Harvard guys only..